Steven Moffat's Latest Defence For Not Casting A Female Doctor On Doctor Who Is Ridiculous

This Christmas, Doctor Who will undergo one of the biggest transformations in its 54-year history: For the first time, the Doctor will regenerate into a woman. But outgoing showrunner Steven Moffat has decided now, three weeks before he's effectively done with the series, is the best time to put his foot in his mouth over the change.

Image: BBC

Speaking to the Radio Times as part of an extensive interview about his time on Doctor Who, Moffat deflected a question about why it took until now - and a new showrunner in the form of Chris Chibnall - to cast a woman in the title role. Defending his decision to not cast a woman during his own tenure, Moffat simply stated that such a decision would have upset "Daily Mail-reading viewers", and, weirdly enough, invoked Brexit in the process:

This isn't a show exclusively for progressive liberals; this is also for people who voted Brexit. That's not me politically at all - but we have to keep everyone on board.

OK, sure, Doctor Who is designed to be a show that appeals to a broad spectrum of viewers - young, old, men, women, even conservative or liberal. But it's pretty disingenuous to paint a show about an often non-violent protagonist who abandons an isolationist society to use its advanced technology to right injustices and defend the defenceless from evil - including fascist pepper pots! - as something that isn't anything other than wildly left-leaning at its core. The Doctor, regardless of incarnation, is pretty much a bleeding heart (hearts, technically) liberal in quasi-immortal form. It's also a pretty weird thing to say considering Moffat immediately went on to add that the time was right to have a female Doctor given it was something most of the Who-watching audience were asking for:

All credit to [Chris Chibnall]. It's going to work, I know it is. More and more of the audience were asking for it. It's is absolutely the right choice. Now is the time.

This isn't the first time Moffat has tried to cast the decision of having a female Doctor as a political one, but it kind of begs the question: Now that we have a female Doctor on the way so soon - literally weeks away - what on earth was the point of re-litigating a silly, moot argument?

[Radio Times via The Independent]

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    A female Doctor is simply political correctness.
    It has nothing to do with improving the story, and or making a better show.

      New super hero movies have Bruce Wayne realigning as female and becoming BatLady and WonderWoman realigning as male and becoming WonderMan.

        Imagine the backlash if they made the character WonderMan...

        Political correctness is often a one way street.

            Not what we're talking about Rae. More the actual Batman and Wonder Woman characters themselves being realigned.

            Wonder Woman is such an iconic female character, and if they did anything to mess with that and make the character male, I think there's a chance of a reaction or two. Which may be negative.

            It seems OK to realign Doctor Who as female (note: I have NO problem with that, I'm looking forward to it), but if you did the opposite, and realigned a traditional female character, and a major one at that, what do you imagine the reaction would be?

            Moving forward, what do they do with the next regeneration? Keep the Doc female? Make them some other minority? Or revert to male? They may be backing themselves into a corner they might find hard to get out of.

              In order to keep a series fresh, you need to keep on reinventing it. Having a woman play the doctor is not only an exciting opportunity but a logical step too.
              Moving forward, what do they do with the next regeneration?
              Whatever keeps the franchise fresh!?

                Really? Doesn't even come close to passing the "sniff test" If it smells like a turd, I wouldn't taste it...

                How about twins?

              I don't think that analogy makes much sense, neither Wonder Woman nor Batman have an established canon of every cell in their body regenerating into something new every time they die. If the Doctor's, height, weight, mannerisms, accent and other things can fundamentally alter when he regenerates, why not gender? Seems like it should have happened a long time ago.

                I'm not disagreeing with it. In any way. I was responding to ballast's comment about Batman or Wonder Woman being flipped, and its grown from there. And with me, I was originally pointing out that political correctness can be a one way street, which is where I brought Wonder Woman into it.

                That's all.

                And I agree they could have done it before with the Doc. Not sure it would have worked in the 80's when the original run was going, but for the telemovie or even the War Doctor, I think they could have done it. Imagine someone like Helen Mirren as the War Doctor.

                I'm not saying the role cant or couldn't be done with a female lead. Its been obvious for a while it can. I'm saying that political correctness could now be a limiting factor in the future.

                Is that a good or bad thing?

                  Calling it PC because there'd be a harsh reaction the other way isn't a fair analogy though.

                  When 9/10 characters are straight white male, you need to flip over 4 or more to have equality.

                  Once you're on an equal footing, then sure, you can have a genderswapped Wonder Woman and if there's outrage you can complain.

                  Decrying people for being upset when you take their 1/10 minority hero and swap it to a man, making it 10/10 straight while male heroes is what people are getting upset about.

        Batman is one of the very, very few characters who would be damaged by gender swapping or race swapping for that matter. Besides Wonder Woman I actually can't think of anyone else who you can say this about. WW is an iconic powerful female character so you need to leave her as she is. With Batman the fact that he is very rich, white and male and disregards all the social and political advantages this innately gives him to nightly sacrifice himself for the greater good is one of the crucial elements of his character. Removing any of those three elements of his character fundamentally changes him. Making the Doctor female doesn't change anything at all about the character besides his/her gender. Hopefully it will allow for more interesting stories. But since the violence in Doctor Who is totally PG there wont be any stories about violence specifically directed towards woman like there would be in a female Batman story.
        If you want to think about gender swapping in a positive light, imagine for just a minute how different world history would be if Jesus was female...

        Last edited 05/12/17 11:18 am

          If that were the case, Jesus would still be alive because the Last Supper never woulda ended...

          They'd still be there at the table, Jesus and the now female 12 Apostles...

          "What are you having?"
          "I dunno, whatever you're having."
          "Are you sure? I'll have whatever you're having."
          "Oh cmon. Fine I'll have whatever you're having"
          "Fine. Whatever she's having."
          *carries on til dawn* Judas misses out on betraying Jesus...

          James Bond is another character where you couldn't race or gender swap unless you completely disregarded the essence of the character.

          It's often very simplistic views of characters boiling them down to something which isn't the character. He's a spy, can be any race or gender. He's just a superhero dressed as a bat, can be anything. No, there's a lot more to the backstories of the character and who they are. Any change is really reinventing in a way incompatible with the previous character. The Wayne family can't be a black family of old generational extreme wealth and power because they don't exist. James Bond represents and comes from an old type of colonial Britishness. A huge majority of his novels and films would not work if the character was not a white male.

          The Doctor Who one is interesting because will they address the gender elephant in the room? There's a whole thing about how beneficial it is for a time traveller to be a white male. For so much of civilisation a white male can go anywhere and be fine. That can't be said about other races and genders.

          Will they address that in an intelligent and well written way. One that isn't just, "sexism is bad, woman can do everything" agenda drive PC stuff. Or just ignore it for the most part and pretend a lot of sexism never really existed or blame it on power structures but the everyday people are fine.

            The Doctor Who one is interesting because will they address the gender elephant in the room?

            They already did, they showed a Timelord last season I believe, changing from an old man into a woman when he was killed. They also had the Master regenerate into Missy. So that 'elephant' has been tackled.

              No, I mean the fact that for a lot of the period locations the Doctor goes to. She'll not be considered someone in authority.

              "Who are you?"
              "I'm the Doctor."
              "Perposturious, you're a woman!"

              That kind of thing, addressing the sexism and lack of gender equality in most of human history. Will they address it, will they do it intelligently, soap boxy simplistic or ignore it?

                I get what you mean :) I'd like to see them do that and have fun with it, but not be overly preachy? Playing with stereotypes can be fun and Russel T Davies did that excellently with Jack Harkness for example. However I do feel that while Moffat started off well, he soon slipped into being too blunt with his intent and didn't quite manage the nuanced subtlety Davies had going for him. I hope Chibnall can pull that off, because a female Dr Who would be wonderful with that going for her. Playing with tropes, subverting them etc could be great, but not in the way Moffat tried (and ultimately failed) to do it.

    who cares? Doctor who is laughably terrible. He could have cast a talking poo and it wouldnt have made much difference

    Anyone who's anyone knows this is just attention seeking. The show has gone downhill since Moffat took over. It got more ridiculous and the plot lines weren't very cohesive. At least with RTD you had some thread going through the stories, everything ended up tying together by the time he'd finished his work. They needed to shake things up but this feels more like a publicity stunt.

    I think Moffat was just saying that the time wasn't right when he was at the helm, and that the time has now come for a female doctor, and that he thinks it is a good idea.

    I don't see any conflict in his statement.
    You can argue that the time was right long ago, or that he is wrong, but it is a stretch to say he is being inconsistent with his argument.

      The real issue is that he mentioned they considered people who are progressive liberals. That's the crime in his comment. Otherwise it's completely reasonable.

    I don’t see how he’s put his foot in his mouth by saying this.

    It also seems like you’re trying to insinuate he’s contradicting himself by saying more and more of the audience is asking for a female Doctor. Pointing out that in the time he’s worked on the show the audience demographic has changed is hardly controversial or contradictory.

    It doesn't matter anyway, this is just a stunt to try & improve the shows lousy ratings. It wont work & will likely be the final nail in the franchises coffin.

    So, an alien, whose race are sequential hermaphrodites through regeneration, who has been a male 14 times cannot be a women. That just does not make sense to me.
    I think it shows that the cries of "political correctness" are from people who do not understand the premise of the main character. The doctor is a time lord. Times lords can and do change gender. The only thing that is weird is that out of 14 regenerations the doctor has not been a women.

    The true reason he didn't cast a female as the doctor is because Stephen Moffat can't write females who aren't plot devices.

    This opens up doors people! Stop looking back and start looking forward. Lets start swapping out those roles. Jesus could be played by Margot Robbie, Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice could be played by Brad Pitt, John Travolta playing Bridget Jones in the new re-imagined movie series. Yoda's force ghost could be could be played by Emma Watson or Emily Blunt. Hamlet could be played by Pamela Anderson in the West End. Cleopatra could be played by Jimmy Kimmel, Beyoncé could be Spartacus!Think of the acting chops these performers could display in playing these non-gender conforming roles and imagine the enjoyment we could get from watching these adapted movies.

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